Several suburban mayors in the Fox Valley recently signed a letter urging state legislators to pass a law legalizing same-sex marriage during the fall veto session.
The letter, written by Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns and released last week by the gay marriage advocacy group Illinois Unites for Marriage, calls on the state House of Representatives to pass the Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Fairness Act.
The bill, passed by the Senate in February, would grant same-sex couples the right to marry in Illinois. Seven mayors signed the letter to state lawmakers.
"As the chief executive officers (of) our respective communities, our responsibility and guiding principal is to work with citizens and businesses to encourage, create, strengthen and sustain an environment where everyone is provided an opportunity to succeed," the letter reads. "Each day, we see same-sex couples and their families who suffer because they are denied the full protections of law, protections that strengthen families."
The other mayors who signed the letter include St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina, Plano Mayor Bob Hausler, Sleepy Hollow Mayor Stephan Pickett, North Aurora Mayor Dale Berman, Elburn Mayor Dave Anderson and Yorkville Mayor Gary J. Golinski.
"From a personal point of view and from a public policy point of view and a civil rights point of view, marriage equality and full citizenship is critical to the health and well-being of the citizens of Illinois," Burns said. "If we can't provide the economic opportunities for all of our citizens, then we fall short of achieving our goals."
Rogina said that when Burns approahed him about the letter, it wasn't a hard decision to make.
"I recognized what the Supreme Court said in declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional," Rogina said.
Rogina said that while local leaders have an obligation to ensure no one's civil rights are violated, he signed the letter because of his personal views, adding that his support in no way serves as an official stance for the city of St. Charles.
"To me, it's no problem in my mind for a group of mayors to get together and support a civil rights issue," he said. "I was happy to join Mayor Burns."
If legislators decide to pass the bill, Illinois would become the 15th state to legalize gay marriage.